web analytics
November 26, 2014 / 4 Kislev, 5775
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post
IDC Herzliya Campus A Day on Campus

To mark IDC Herzliya’s 20th anniversary, we spent a day following Prof. Uriel Reichman, IDC’s founder and president, and Jonathan Davis, VP for External Relations, around its delightful campus.



Uproar: Post Traumatic Embitterment Disorder?


Family-logo

In a paper greeted enthusiastically at the May conference of the American Psychiatric Association, in San Francisco, a new name was given to a common problem, Post Traumatic Embitterment Disorder. My initial response: another excuse to drug people. However, upon thinking it over, I think that the word embittered does describe the essence of a serious problem. Many of us suffer from some degree of jealousy and bitterness about the injustices in our lives. But does that make us embittered? I would hope not. So, what characterizes embittered people? Here are some actual examples (the names have been changed):

Chedva was so happy at her vort last Motzei Shabbos. Finally, at the age of 23, she has found her bashert. She likes her future mother-in-law and her future husband is a gentle soul who loves to learn, and is also a musician – just perfect for her! Her mood changed swiftly the next morning when her mother angrily attacked her, “I was up the entire night crying because of you.” “What did I do?” asked Chedva, feeling the life drain out of her body. “I was so insulted,” said her mother. “You talked to your future mother-in-law almost the entire time and kept taking pictures with her! You have no kibud horim!” Feeling like a sinner who deserved the death sentence, Chedva listened submissively as her mother blamed her for being one more source of misery in her life.

For years, Mina has kept the family tradition of bringing her children to visit her parents every Shabbos. However, last week, the weather in B’nai Brak was unbearable. Desperate for sleep after giving birth to her 10th child, she decided to stay home and rest, although she dutifully sent her older children to visit their grandparents. The next day, one relative after another called to berate her, “How dare you? Daddy was furious and didn’t stop talking about how offended he was that you didn’t show up, like he was going to have a heart attack from grief. Call right away and make amends.”

Shlomo’s mother constantly berated him, calling daily to complain about his wife. “Why wasn’t I the first to know about the pregnancy?” she raged. “Why is she so cold to me?” Shlomo didn’t know what to say. He felt he had to listen for kibud horim. But her complaints were like poison, driving a wedge between him and his wife, who refused to go to his parents’ house for Shabbos. Caught between two angry women, his stomach turned in fear and shame.

These parents are embittered people, determined to make those closest to them feel unlovable, stupid and inadequate. Although they are often powerful, socially active people who are convinced that no one is as devoted and self-sacrificing as they are, they can erupt like a nuclear reactor, spewing bitterness at family members or workers who fail to live up to their expectations. In addition, they are:

Dependent Bullies: They act helpless yet bully others into subservience. As long as people are listening to them, giving them gifts or acting submissive, they seem happy and quite adoring. However, the minute the attention stops, they become spiteful and will harangue their victims – “No one cares/helps/loves me! The more time you spend with them, the longer the list gets, as you inevitably disappoint them hundreds of times each day by your very presence. Whatever you do, you cannot do it fast enough or well enough for them. In their eyes, you are a failure – unless they want something from you, at which point they can become surprisingly gracious and charming!

Touchy in the Extreme: They take everything others do personally. Thus, they constantly feel insulted, neglected and rejected, by the most innocent actions of others – the fact that you didn’t fold the napkins to their liking, didn’t call more often or didn’t stay longer, didn’t wrap the gift or left footprints on the rug, etc. They think your actions are deliberately hurtful.

Insanely Jealous: They are sure that everyone else is happier, more loved, more successful or getting more attention than they are. If you try to get them to focus on the good in their lives, they get angrier. If you avoid them, they spend hours crying to others that you have insulted and abandoned them, inciting people to hate you.

Empty: Because they suffer from intense feelings of emptiness, they become even more anxious when anyone is relaxed or happy. To fill the empty void within themselves, they focus on some flaw in others or make false accusations, causing a huge fight and a very distracting uproar, which ruins every Shabbos meal or simcha.

Filled with Blame: They blame others for not being loyal, attentive, respectful, quick or smart enough to please them and make them happy.

Paranoid: They see signs of betrayal or abandonment in the fact that you are successful or show love for anything or anyone else.

Unstable: You never know what to expect, whether they will kiss you or kick you. You can’t know what will set off a jealous rage or explosive tirade, repeating their refrain, “No one loves or appreciates me. No one is as devoted as I am.”

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

Like an anorexic who thinks she is fat, embittered people are sure that no one suffers as much as they do. Any attempt to even hint that they might not be seeing reality correctly will often cause them to attack you. You must focus on the three areas in which you do have choice, i.e., thought, speech and action. For example:

Avoid Shame: You can’t “fix” them. It is likely that they were abused or neglected in childhood, which resulted in an inability to trust people. Despite all your efforts to please, it will never be good enough. They can’t be pleased and will refuse all your helpful suggestions as to how they can feel less lonely, such as doing chesed, going to classes or seeking help.

Avoid False Hope: They will not change. Despite moments of passion and fun, especially when they want something from you, unless they make a firm commitment to change their thoughts and behaviors and without this intense effort the relationship will be like a “house of cards,” tumbling down the minute they feel hurt. Unfortunately, you are bound to do something that hurts them, even if it is simply not being available or tracking dirt onto the floor.

Disconnect: Research has shown that those who live or work with nasty-tempered people do suffer from more mental and physical illnesses, especially auto-immune diseases. Yet you may be addicted to them, thinking about them 24/7 – how to please them, how to avoid being attacked by them or how to recover from them. Avoid responding, and if possible, move away for sheer pikuach nefesh. Their lack of emotional maturity can cripple you.

Make Decisions: Create a sense of self-worth by being proud of your smallest decisions. State your individual opinions and take initiative. Form bonds with trustworthy people; otherwise your own ability to trust will be harmed. Do things that make you happy, even if they are terribly offended by your choices.

Spot Emotional Blackmail: They will use words like kibud horim or shalom bayis. This is emotional blackmail. Talking and trying to reason with them and make them understand will only pull you back into the web of deceit.

Remember, no matter what pain a person has experienced, an adult is responsible for his moods and middos. You are not to blame for the fact that they are bitter, lonely or depressed. This is a serious disorder that you did not create, cannot control and cannot cure. Healthy relationships are not built on guilt and fear.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Uproar: Post Traumatic Embitterment Disorder?”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Ferguson, Missouri: rioting against racism, encouraging murder
The Foul Stench of the Ferguson Fallout
Latest Sections Stories
Rabbi Maurice Lamm

Creativity without clarity is not sufficient for writing. I am eternally thankful to Hashem for his gift to me.

Schonfeld-logo1

This core idea of memory is very difficult to fully comprehend; however, it is essential.

Sometimes the most powerful countermove one can make when a person is screaming is to calmly say that her behavior is not helpful and then continue interacting with the rest of the family while ignoring the enraged person.

“Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples shall divide within you.”

Divorce from a vindictive, cruel spouse can be a lifelong nightmare when there are offspring.

There were many French Jews who jumped at the chance to shed their ancient identity and assimilate.

As Rabbi Shemtov stood on the stage and looked out at the attendees, he told them that “Rather than take photos with your cellphones, take a mental photo and keep this Shabbat in your mind and take it with you throughout your life.”

Yeshiva v’Kollel Bais Moshe Chaim will be holding a grand celebration on the occasion of the institution’s 40th anniversary on Sunday evening, December 7. Alumni, students, friends and faculty of the yeshiva, also known as Talmudic University of Florida, will celebrate the achievement and vision of its founders and the spiritual guidance of its educational […]

The yeshiva night accommodates all levels of Jewish education.

Recently, Fort Lauderdale has been the focus of international news, and it has not been about the wonderful weather.

Rabbi Sacks held the position of chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth for 22 years until September 2013.

The event included a dvar Torah by student Pesach Bixon, an overview of courses, information about student life and a student panel that answered frequently asked questions from a student perspective.

It is difficult to write about such a holy person, for I fear I will not accurately portray his greatness…

More Articles from Dr. Miriam Adahan

Chaim* was admired in yeshiva for his incredible diligence. His days were consumed with learning and he could be found in the Beis Midrash almost 24/7. For him, sleep was a waste of time. Great things were forecast for his future until neighbors found him lying in the middle of the street in Geula, hallucinating that he was Moshiach. Medications stopped his racing mind but made him feel like a zombie. He became depressed and shell of his former self. His parents thought they were acting responsibly when they had him hospitalized and then put in a hostel.

Lessons-logo

Since suffering from colitis as a teen, I finally adopted a strict diet in my 30s that ended my torment. It wasn’t easy to forgo white flour, white sugar and all chemical additives, but it meant that I spend the last 40 years pretty much free of doctors, medications and illness, thank God. Thus, I was surprised when two weeks before Rosh Hashanah, I began to experience increasingly severe stomach discomfort – until I was barely able to move. Despite what I was soon to endure, it helped greatly to focus on the moment-to-moment miracles.

As a teenager, I suffered from occasional panic attacks, social anxiety, and more than the usual amount of teenage angst. In today’s drug-obsessed society, I would certainly have been given psych meds; thankfully, back then, it was expected that maturity would bring greater resilience and awareness. And so it was.

Psychologist David Richo defines love in terms of five A’s: appreciation, affection, attentiveness (listening), acceptance and allowing (as in allowing others the freedom to fulfill their own dreams). Love is the opposite of control.

The couple had barely completed their brief intake papers, which included a small handwriting sample, when, her eyes blazing with fury, the wife pounded on the small table between us and yelled, “He has to grow up! I need a husband who is a real partner, not a lazy good-for-nothing who won’t take responsibility and is totally clueless about my needs!” Her husband sat hunched in his chair, looking like a hapless cat which had somehow survived the spin cycle in a washing machine.

Kindness is such an essential Jewish trait that we are told to suspect that a cruel person is not really Jewish. The media constantly uplifts us with inspirational stories about saintly people who radiated love to their fellowman and did their utmost to avoid hurting others. Yet we are also told, “Those who are kind to the cruel will eventually be cruel to the kind” (Koheles Raba 7:16). It is not a kindness to allow ourselves to be abused, exploited or manipulated. By not taking protective action when possible, we encourage destructive behavior. The following stories are examples of naïve and trusting people who paid a heavy price for being overly “nice.”

In a paper greeted enthusiastically at the May conference of the American Psychiatric Association, in San Francisco, a new name was given to a common problem, Post Traumatic Embitterment Disorder. My initial response: another excuse to drug people. However, upon thinking it over, I think that the word embittered does describe the essence of a serious problem. Many of us suffer from some degree of jealousy and bitterness about the injustices in our lives. But does that make us embittered? I would hope not. So, what characterizes embittered people? Here are some actual examples (the names have been changed):

Like medical doctors, every therapist is tormented at times with the question of the hopelessness or hopefulness of a marriage or any other relationship. Everyone is anxious to know if the “broken” spouse/child/parent/sibling can be fixed. With desperation in their voices, they ask, “Can medication, therapy or other interventions turn him/her around and stop him/her from being so depressed, anxious, addicted or angry?” How can a therapist say, “There is no hope.”?

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/parenting-our-children/uproar-post-traumatic-embitterment-disorder/2009/09/30/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: